When a storm hits across the Midwest plains, animals far and wide take cover. Cattle scatter and run away from the thunder and rain, creating havoc and panic across their herd. Buffalo, on the other hand, band together and run towards the storm as one. By facing the storm head on, they increase their chances of emerging unscathed on the other side.
One of my colleagues shared this story with me from the C12 Group and it struck me as the perfect metaphor for the leadership integration process. As a new leader, you must be the buffalo. You must confront the unknowns of starting a new role by facing the challenges head-on. You must be fearless. You must be ready to charge if you want to find success on the other side.
This might sound dramatic, but after spending 20 years in leadership development I learned that the buffalo approach is the strongest way to integrate into a new executive role. Challenges will always arise in the first ninety days on the job. It could be as small as not inviting someone to lunch to as big as a misunderstanding in your new role’s responsibilities. But challenges will happen. Confronting them in a healthy and culturally accepted way is the only true way to find a resolution. Otherwise, early misperceptions can be made, which linger and impede your progress on the critical ninety-day priorities and success moving forward.
Like the buffalo, your chances of success can be greatly improved by banding together with a trusted partner and heading into the storm together. A third-party leadership integration consultant provides neutral, consistent support to help you weather the storm of a new culture and political environment. We ask the questions that are intimidating to ask, we get the answers around what success looks like, we explore the organizational structure to identify key relationships and stakeholder needs, we pinpoint big wins and potential failures in your role. With a leadership integration advisor by your side to act as a combination of executive coach and champion on day one, the results are extraordinary. The results are a win for both the associate and the organization.
So be the buffalo. Face your challenges head-on. Band together. Weather the storm. You’ll not only find success on the other side, but you’ll also find you wasted no time getting there.
Ginger Duncan, MA is a senior leadership integration consultant and executive coach with The Human Capital Group, an executive search and leadership advisory firm. She has over 20 years of experience in leadership development, coaching, facilitation and training, plus 11 years leading the talent development function in a corporate setting.